No Car Will Be the New Apple Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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no car will be the new apple car

After numerous rumored postponements to the vehicle’s intended release, repeated strategy disagreements, large-scale layoffs, and the loss of key team members assigned to the self-driving vehicle project, it appears that Apple is scrapping the idea of building a car entirely.

According to Bloomberg, hundreds of members of Apple’s Project Titan have been laid off, reassigned to other projects, or have outright quit over the last few months. As a result, the initiative has been embarrassingly “refocused” once again.

In 2015, Apple expanded its autonomous vehicle project from 200 people to over a thousand, frequently poaching experts from the automotive and tech sectors. Given the size of the team, it certainly looked like Apple was committed to bringing a car to market. But as deadlines slipped and more employees headed for the exit, that seemed less and less likely.

Now it just isn’t happening. This time around, the refocusing doesn’t include a production — or even prototype — vehicle at all. Instead, Apple has given itself a deadline of late next year to establish a self-driving system and decide the fate of the entire project. So, assuming the project survives at all, Apple will likely be using it to develop technology for existing automakers that may want an autonomous vehicle — Ford for example.

Reports on the issues surrounding the project’s ignominious breakdown highlight inconsistent management. One anonymous source interviewed by Bloomberg even referred to it as “an incredible failure of leadership.”

Bob Mansfield has headed Project Titan since Steve Zadesky’s departure earlier this year, providing oversight as hundreds of hardware engineers working on elements of the physical vehicle were cut from the program — the final nail in the iCar’s coffin. The remaining software engineers will continue progress on autonomous programs, driving sensors, and simulators to test the technology (should it actually be implemented on an actual vehicle). As stated earlier, they have until next year to do so.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • La834 La834 on Oct 17, 2016

    I can't see this new direction lasting long either. Apple famously likes to "make the whole widget", not just the software or partnering with other companies. The iPhone has been far more profitable than its competitors because Apple makes the hardware, the software, and related online services - the entire ecosystem. Android is popular but Google doesn't make much money giving away an operating system that runs mostly on other companies' hardware. Microsoft has reached the same conclusion and is now making tablets and laptops that run Windows. I can't see Apple just providing software to Ford or something; either they'll build the whole car or stay out of the automotive industry.

  • 05lgt 05lgt on Oct 19, 2016

    I heard Woz was admitted for a hernia from laughing all the way to ...

  • Clay Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 had manual choke through 1987.Also, just started daily driving my 1992 Volvo 240 that I picked up in September and brought back to the road. Some fresh studded tires + RWD, bring on the snow!! Old Volvos make me smile
  • Lou_BC My son already has a Scout EV. Well, okay, RC....
  • The Oracle I was in WNY when this went down and it is likely a medical issue and/or some type of rolling domestic. That car was flat out with air bags deployed before it even left the ground. It was a spectacular wreck. The couple made a 7-minute stop at the Seneca Niagara Casino before the fiery launch, and something went terribly wrong in those 7 minutes.
  • Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
  • Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.